When I was a young boy, there were two dates on the calendar that I looked forward to each year – Christmas and my birthday. As you might imagine, these days had a decidedly self-centered focus. Fortunately for everyone who came to serve in the capacity of Wish-Fulfillment Officer, my mother was always there to ensure I did not forget my manners.
"Mikey, don’t forget to say thank you!”
At the time, it seemed like an unwelcome and unnecessary interruption in my joy. But, looking back, I am thankful for her care of both myself and others.
the Apostle Paul, in virtually all his letters, makes sure to thank those who are reading his epistle. In the opening of First Thessalonians he writes, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thess. 1:2-3).”
His thankfulness frequently took two forms: he conveyed thankfulness for their faith in Christ, and thankfulness for their service to him and the cause of the gospel. Paul’s attentiveness to intentionally expressing thanks to his readers was not only culturally appropriate, it was deeply pastoral. Expressing thanks reminded each reader that they were significant to the mission of God, to Paul himself, and that their efforts were not only noticed but appreciated. Additionally, it served to knit them together in love.
Each day we encounter people that we should be thankful for: our car mechanic, a child’s teacher, an accountant, a retail checker, a restaurant server, the administrative assistant, the manager, the person who cleans the mall, the airline pilot, the doctor we see for a check-up, the local police and fire department, a local elected official, the public works employee, etc. Through their work, God is using them to bless our homes, our workplaces, and our communities.
At Redemption, we speak a fair amount about the fact that all our efforts in our vocational callings should be considered worship to God, and as also playing an important part in what God is doing through the Church to seek the common good and the flourishing of society. This makes our work more glorious than we can possibly imagine, regardless of how mundane it might seem. While Christians are blessed with having our work received by God as worship, it is also true that God intends the work of all people to be directed to Him as worship and to serve the common good. the only barrier to their work being worship is their alienation to God.
These truths create an opportunity to extend the life-changing love of Jesus Christ in our communities. We believe we have found a wonderful way to extend an invitation to the experience the gospel to those who bless us, and for them to share in the blessing of working as worship.
Throughout the fall, Redemption Church is will be embarking on “A Note of Thanks” campaign.
Starting this Sunday, we will be making available bundles of 6 Thanks You cards & envelopes. Each bundle will come with a brief page of instructions on how to write your “Note of Thanks.” The idea is simple enough: let them know why you are thankful for their work and include a simple line that says something like, “At my church we believe that one of the reasons God created work was to bless people and to promote the flourishing of communities.” There is no need to include a direct invitation to come to church, although you are welcome to do so. We just want to thank them for the work that they do that blesses us.
In his book, The Celtic Way of Evangelism, author George Hunter III writes, “When the people know that the Christians understand them, they will infer that maybe the High God understands them too (p.20).”
I strongly believe that one of the ways that people will come to a belief that their work was created by God to be offered as worship and for the flourishing of our communities, is to let them know that the people of God understand the importance of their work, and appreciate the blessing it brings to many. Through this expression of thanks, perhaps they will be drawn to ask, “What kind of people are thankful of the work that I do?” In doing so, some of the skepticism of the Christian faith diminishes, and the subtle seeking of God begins.
One more thing, “Thank you!” for all that you do to bless so many in our community through the faithful use of your gifts in your vocational calling.